Nobody likes getting shot-blasted in the face with mud whilst riding, and with the dry trails of summer now a distant memory, it’s time to fit a mudguard. We tested 7 of the best MTB mudguards on the market to find out which can keep the mud on the trail, not on your face!
It’s that time of year again, a season where riding bikes requires motivation, a sense of humour and the right equipment. If you haven’t done so already, check out our top tips for riding in the wet to help extract some fun from the muddy trails. One tip that stands paramount is the need to fit a mudguard. But which mudguard should you buy? Traditionally, many riders have fitted long, wobbly fenders that attach under the fork crown. While these do provide some protection, when the trails gets technical, they are as much fun as a trip to the dentist, flapping around like a demented snake. If you want to do more than just gravel-road tours, then you need to get a proper off road fender. We test 7 of the best options to find out which is best,
What makes the best MTB mudguard?
Mudguards (or fenders) significantly reduce the amount of spray that fires off your front wheel, not only protecting you from a covering of mud, but also your bike and fork seals. Fitting a mudguard will keep you cleaner, dryer and stop your goggles or glasses getting covered in filth – your washing machine will thank you too. The best MTB Mudguards will be easy to fit, offer protection against front-wheel spray and be tough enough to return back into shape should they get folded in a crash. We should also start thinking more about the environment and being a simple 100% plastic part, we would hope the guard is made from recycled material.
Why did we not test rear MTB mudguards?
You will have noticed that we have not tested any mudguards for the rear of the bike. This is because even though there are many options on the market, due to the multitude of different suspension designs, it’s hard for us to recommend a universal rear fender. The front guards in this test can be fitted to any bike (with the exception of Lefty and Manitou reverse crown forks) and the Mudhugger and Mucky Nutz can also be fitted to the rear if your bikes suspension system is compatible.
Will an MTB fender block with mud?
If the mud is thick and sticky, sometimes your mudguard can block up. Both the Mucky Nutz and Mudhugger guards feature a sharp-edged ‘scraper’ on the rear of the guard to help clear mud, but the CRUD XL is the only guard that features a soft-nose ‘escape hatch’ to allow mud to push up and escape from under the fork crown. This makes the CRUD XL the best option if your home trail mud is thick and claggy, however, this feature does come at the expense of protection for the fork seals.
Will a mudguard fit any wheel size?
All the mudguards in this test are universal and can be used on bikes with any wheel size – with the exception of plus and fat bikes of course. However, if you are using very wide tires 2.5 inches + on a 29-inch bike, it is best to check clearance carefully to make sure there is enough space.
How much clearance do I need between the fender and tire?
All the mudguards in this test mount under the suspension fork brace, however, there is limited space between the fork crown and tire. If you are running 29-inch wheels with tall tires, the mudguard will fit very close to the tire. As a rule of thumb, it is best to ensure there is at least 18 mm of clearance (about the width of your index finger) between the mudguard and the tire to avoid rubbing. Once the mudguard is fitted, It is recommended that you release all the air pressure from your fork and compress it to its maximum travel to make sure the fork lowers do not hit the mudguard.
Will my MTB mudguard break in a crash?
Bikes have a hard life, especially during the winter, and therefore a mudguard needs to be tough. All the mudguards in this test are made from flexible polypropylene which returns to its original form should it get bent or squashed.
How to mount a mudguard on your MTB
Gone are the days of wobbly mudguards flapping in the wind! All the mudguards in this test mount between the fork legs and under the crown for maximum security. This also places the mudguard in close proximity to the tire in the best position to minimise spray. The simplest designs use plastic cable ties to clamp the guard to the fork crown and fork legs, holding it securely in place. The CRUD XL uses removable rubber O-rings to secure the mudguard firmly in place, while the Mojo DFender has a clamp that allows for fast, tool-free mounting and removal. All the guards in this test can be fitted in a few minutes by even the most inexperienced of home mechanics.
What happens if you want to remove the mudguard?
Most of the mudguards in this test are secured using inexpensive cable ties. Therefore, if you want to frequently remove your mudguard, we would recommend using velcro ties or re-usable cable ties to reduce waste. The DFender and CRUD XL are the only mudguards in this test that allow for easy and quick removal. However, mudguards are now lower in profile and more aesthetic, and thus most riders will be happy to leave them on their bike year-round.
The mudguards in review
There are literally hundreds of mudguards on the market, many are derivatives of the simple ‘marshguard’. There are also many traditional long and thin ‘fender’ designs that are often attached by a single quick release insert under the fork steerer. However, with a single mounting point these fenders are often wobbly, noisy and distracting on technical trails. All the fenders we have picked for this group test are secure enough for adventurous trail riding and enduro trails. Starting with the simple AMS Mud Guard, a thicker and more stylish alternative to the classic ‘marshguard’, it offers minimal protection but cool looks. For more protection and coverage, the Mucky Nutz MugGuard, Mudhugger FRX and RRP ProGuard all use cable ties or velcro straps to attach to the fork legs and crown and fit closely to the tire for maximum protection. The CRUD XL and Mojo DFender are both designed to be quick and easy to attach and remove without tools, while the RRP ProGuard uses the bolt holes on compatible fork crowns for a full-factory look.
|Model||AMS Mud Guard||CRUD XL Fender||Mojo DFender Mudguard||Mucky Nutz MugGuard||Mudhugger FRX||RRP ProGuard||RRP ProGuard BOLT ON|
|Weight||36 g||195 g||142 g||85 g||83 g||111 g||102 g|
|Length||240 mm||580 mm||470 mm||380 mm||420 mm||460 mm||390 mm|
|Price||€ 14.00||€ 34.95||£ 49.00*||£ 19.99*||£ 25.00*||£ 35.99*||£ 35.99*|
*Many of the mudguards in this test are produced in the UK by specialist ‘mudguard’ companies, perhaps in testament to the islands weather. All offer worldwide shipping from their websites.
Conclusion – Which is the best MTB mudguard of 2020
All the MTB mudguards in this test kept the worst of the spray from our faces, while the best allowed us to ride without glasses. If you ride predominantly in very claggy mud, the only guard we would recommend is the CRUD XL fender which was the only guard never to block up. However, the design does mean it lacks fork seal guards. The AMS Mud Guard, Fender offers minimalistic aesthetics, but also minimal protection, but is a great option for those who only very occasionally ride wet trails. A firm team favourite was the Mojo DFender, which can be fitted in seconds and was totally bombproof, if you ride hard and demand maximum clearance, total security and silence, the Mojo DFender is a great option, taking our BEST IN TEST. The Mucky Nutz, Mudhugger and RRP guards were hard to seperate, all doing an impeccable job and offering superb value. In the end, we loved the RRP ProGuard BOLT ON version but it is only compatible with a limited number of forks, and after much debate, it was the more environmentally conscious Mucky Nutz MugGuard that takes the BEST VALUE award.
Best MTB Mudguard in test – Mojo DFender Mudguard
The Mojo DFender takes a different route than the rest of the guards in this test, with an aesthetic that certainly draws on Moto DNA. Instead of using throwaway cable ties or rubber o-rings, the DFender uses a secure clamp, which can be tightened and removed tool-free using the single knurled adjuster. The clamp is engineered to grip the fork crown firmly and can be affixed in seconds after some initial practice. The DFender is available with separate fitting adaptors to ensure the correct fitting angle with different forks, and is compatible with most FOX and 27.5” RockShox forks, with new 29” clamps on the way. We found it worked with our 29” Ohlins RXF forks too, but it is best to check with Mojo what adaptor you might need. Although it looks more robust than the rest of the guards in this test, it still retains the same flexibility and pops back to shape if bent.
On the trail there were two highlights. The first was how secure the guard fits on the fork brace, with no discernable wobble or rubbing. The second was how effective the coverage of the guard is. Wider than the rest and folding over the tire, almost all spray, especially that from the back of the tire was eliminated. The only issue we encountered was that the clamp bolt recess can collect mud and debris, and the guard does not protect the fork seals. Aside from that, performance is amazing. The Mojo DFedner is available in the UK with shipping throughout Europe.
If you love full-moto looks and want a guard that can be removed in seconds, the Mojo DFender offers superb protection in a well engineered package. If it fits your fork, it’s the BEST IN TEST.
- Fast removal
- Excellent protection
- Not a universal fit
More info: mojo.co.uk
Best Value Mudguard in test – Mucky Nutz MugGuard
Made from 100% recycled material, the injection moulded Mucky Nutz MugGuard is available in two sizes, the 400 mm Short (as tested) and 600 mm Long model. Weighing 85g, the Mucky Nutz MugGuard is tough and flexible, not losing its shape despite our best twisting and stamping. Compatible with all-wheel sizes and tires up to 3 inches (with a Boost fork). The guard features a small forward-facing lip that drives spray back at the tire. We like that the bridge attachment point is recessed, maximising clearance over the tire, and the wide upper arm protects the seals.
For those who like to remove the guard frequently, Mucky Nutz supply a velcro roll, allowing for quick and easy removal – alternatively, cable ties can be used for a permanent fixture. On the trail, the Mucky Nutz MugGuard offers great protection in a minimalist package.
The Mucky Nutz MugGuard is affordable and performs impeccably. We would choose the short model for year-round riding and long for the worst of winter. If cost is a consideration, the MugGuard is really all you need, taking our BEST VALUE award.
- Simple and secure
- Forward lip works great
- The short is perhaps just a little short for year-round use
More info: muckynutz.com
AMS Mud Guard Review
As simple as it comes, the original “Marshguard” design is available from many companies. The 240 mm AMS Mud Guard is one option, designed and made in Barcelona. Cut from a single sheet, the AMS Mud Guard is slightly thicker than most at 1.2 mm for increased durability and weighs in at 36g. Protection from spray is no match for the longer and more substantial fenders in this test so we would not recommend this guard for very wet conditions, however, the AMS Mud Guard offers far more protection than not running a guard, perfect for riders who do not want to ruin the aesthetic of their bike.
Affixed with 4 cable ties, the guard is quick to fit. The guard covers the fork seals to increase the longevity of the seals and provides just enough protection to stop the worst of the spray hitting your face. Available in 18 cool designs, you are sure to find an option that matches your bike.
If you are looking for a super low-profile guard that comes in some cool designs, the AMS Mud Guard is affordable and works well. However, this is best recommended for those who only occasionally ride in the rain as protection is limited.
- Simple and affordable
- Cool designs
- Not as much protection as a proper fender
More info: allmountainstyle.com
CRUD XL Fender Review
The new CRUD XL fender features tool-free installation and claims compatibility with all suspension forks. To secure the guard, 6 heavy-duty rubber O-rings are stretched around the fork legs and looped onto moulded pegs. The arms of the fender are padded with neoprene where they contact the fork legs. While at 195 g it’s heavy, but once fitted, the CRUD XL Fender is totally secure. When it comes to protection, on muddy trails the long guard works flawlessly, cutting out nearly all upward spray from the front wheel. During testing, the injection moulded ABS-TPU construction has proven very durable and has not cracked or deformed, even when accidentally squashed. The highlight of the design is the unique ‘soft nose’ sitting under the fork brace, which like a flexible trap-door allows mud to escape upward should the tire start to clog. Even when exposed to the thickest Scottish grime – are we are not talking about the music here., we could not get the CRUD XL fender to clog up.
However, the guard’s close proximity to the tire does result in some noise and when you are riding hard you can hear occasional contact with the tire. The only fitting problem we experienced was with FOX 34s, where the fork’s brake hose clamp pushes the fender over to the right. We talked to CRUD, who recommended removing the clamp and instead secure the brake hose with the O-ring of the mudguard. This works fine, but does reduce flexibility as you cannot quickly remove the mudguard without reinstalling the clamp. We were also a little disappointed that the guard does not extend to cover the fork seals.
If you’re in the market for a mudguard and prioritise function, clean aesthetics and fast installation, the CRUD XL Fender is the best guard on the market. Compatible with most forks, it’s an affordable and surprisingly high-tech solution for winter riding. Only the unprotected fork seals left us disappointed.
- Fast installation
- Un-cloggable design
- FOX 34s require removal of the cable clamp
- Does not protect fork seals
More info: crudproducts.com
Mudhugger FRX Review
We all need less plastic in our lives, so it’s great to see the new Mudhugger FRX is made from 100% recycled black polypropylene. Mudhugger has become somewhat iconic on the racing scene, with their guards being recommended by the elite of the DH and EWS scene, names like Loic Bruni and Sam Hill. Their 420 mm Mudhugger FRX is elegantly simple, working with all-wheel sizes and tires up to 3 inches wide (but only on a boost fork). The guard features a forward lip that drives spray back at the tire but does reduce tire clearance. If you want more protection, you can add a MAX extender using press-fit studs, giving an additional 10 cm of coverage. We like that the holes for the MAX extender are pre-formed but not punched through so it looks clean if you choose not to run the extension. Weighing 83g, the Mudhugger FRX is very robust, even despite our best efforts to bend it, it simply springs back into its original shape.
The Mudhugger FRX affixes with 4 – 6 cable ties. Extra crown holes are shaped but not punched out, should you want to add more cable ties. A wide range of decal kits are available should you want to customise your ride. Coverage is good and wobble-free, and we like that the seals of the fork are also protected. Are only slight issue we encountered was that the Mudhugger FRX has the lowest tire clearance in the test, important if you run very tall mud tires.
The FRX Mudhugger is a low-profile guard that offers great protection. The addition of the MAX extended adds extra winter-proofing making the FRX Mudhugger a perfect year-round solution.
- Tough and flexible
- Affordable and effective
- Tire clearance is less than some
More info: themudhugger.co.uk
RRP ProGuard BOLT ON Review
If you‘ve ever looked at the bolt holes on the back of your fork brace and wondered, why does nobody make a fender to bolt onto that? Well, now they do! The RRP ProGuard BOLT ON is the first large direct mount mudguard of its type. Compatible with FOX 32, 34, 36 and 40 forks, Marzocchi Z1 and Z2’s, Ohlins and SR Suntour, with new brackets being made to increase compatibility. If the ProGuard is compatible with your forks, bolting directly to the fork crown without ugly cable ties makes it by far the slickest, sexiest mudguard on the market. Available in two lengths, 470 mm standard and 390 mm mini, the guard comes with mounting brackets, 2 Allen keys and rubber pads to protect your fork legs. The guard works with all wheel sizes and tires up to 3 inches. The ProGuard BOLT ON features 6mm of vertical adjustment and angle adjustment if needed via two tilt brackets.
The guard features a turn-down at the front to minimise spray and a longer rear with a flick. In thick mud, we found the flick does stop the guard clearing as fast as with the sharper ‘cutting edge’ of the Mucky Nutz and Mudhugger models, but the flexible and durable polypropylene proved tough and rugged. Unfortunately, we could find nothing to suggest the material used was from recycled sources. A seal shield stops the mud blasting into your fork seals. In testing, we found the standard length perfect for thick winter, while the mini model was great as a year-round option. If you want to customise your fender, RRP offers 11 sticker colour options separately.
If you want the full-factory look, if you have compatible forks, the RRP ProGuard BOLT ON is the sexiest mudguard on the market! Affordable and high performance, it’s a top drawer mudguard.
- Clean looks
- Totally secure
- Not compatible with RockShox forks
More info: rapidracerproducts.com
RRP ProGuard Review
If you do not have a fork that is compatible with the bolt-on RRP ProGuard, there is a classic version with a universal fit. The glossy finish (you can matte finish using spray lubricants like WD40 or GT85 if desired) of the RRP ProGuard looks classy, but we did find that after a few weeks, the guard scratches easily, and does not keep the showroom looks for long. It is tough however, and shrugged off our best attempts to bend it out of shape. The fork brace holder is indented to add a further 4 mm of tire clearance and Seal Shields stop dirt and grime getting to your fork seals.
The rear flick of the guard did seem to cut down a little on rubbing when turning compared to some of the other mudguards on test. To maximise compatibility, there is a total of 24 crown holes which are marked but not punched through, so you simply snap-off the ones that you need. The guard is available in two lengths, a 494 mm Standard length and a longer 582 mm MAX PROTECTION option. On the trail we found the Standard offered great protection, so we would only consider the MAX PROTECTION for those who ride really wet trails regularly.
The RRP ProGuard feels well made and offers superb levels of protection. It still uses basic cable ties to affix to the fork, but once on, it offers ample clearance and impeccable performance.
- Excellent seal protection
- Great tire clearance
- Scratches easily
More info: rapidracerproducts.com
Words & Photos: Trev Worsey